Monday, September 28, 2020

PUC Highlights Range Of Utility Consumer Assistance Options

As cooler fall weather arrives in Pennsylvania, the Public Utility Commission is reminding consumers of the many resources available to help keep utility service affordable, as well as educational programs available from the PUC.

The PUC urges consumers to work together with their utilities to explore assistance

options before households are faced with overdue bills and large past-due balances.

Utility Customer Assistance Programs

Every major electric and natural gas utility overseen by the PUC offers Customer Assistance Programs (CAPs), under which qualifying low-income customers pay discounted bills, based on their household size and gross household income.

“If you’ve had a reduction in family income because of the coronavirus emergency or other financial problems, it’s possible that you qualify for CAP to help reduce your monthly utility bill – even if you’ve never been part of a CAP program before,” noted PUC Chair Gladys Brown Dutrieuille. 

Ignoring overdue utility bills won’t make them disappear, but the uncertainty will increase family stress during this difficult time.

In addition to CAPs, public utilities across Pennsylvania also have a variety of other options to help consumers, including:

-- Budget Billing – A customer’s annual utility costs are averaged over 12 months so bills don’t jump up or down from month to month;

-- Payment Plans – These plans help address past-due bills or delinquent balances by paying down those balances over an extended period of time;

-- Hardship Funds –  These assistance funds are supported by utilities and donations from utility customers along with non-profit and charitable organizations; and,

--Lifeline Service – Contact your telephone company or a participating wireless services provider about Lifeline, a federal financial support program that helps eligible low-income consumers and households to keep their telephone and internet access. More information on Lifeline is available at  You can also call Lifeline at 1-800-234-9473 between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week.

Additionally, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) may also have funds available to help eligible customers - providing financial assistance with heating-related utilities and crisis funding to address emergency situations. Consumers are urged to call their utility to inquire about such programs.

PUC Educational Resources and Presentations

The PUC consumer-educator team partners with various statewide community groups, state government agencies, legislators, human service providers, utility companies, community based organizations and many other partners to help educate, spread awareness and share many useful programs, tools and resources.

Among the educational topics, programs, presentations and resources available virtually and/or through teleconferencing are the following:

-- Customer Assistance Referral & Evaluation Service (CARES);

-- Budget Billing;

-- Utility Customer Assistance Programs (CAPs);

-- Low Income Usage Reduction Program (LIURP);

-- H2O Assistance Programs;

-- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP);

-- The Lifeline Program for Telephone and Broadband Internet Service;

-- Weatherization Programs; and,

-- Hardship Fund Programs and Resources.

To schedule a virtual presentation or for more information, email the PUC’s consumer-education team at

[Posted: Sept. 28, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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